Interactive Reading & Note-Taking: A First Attempt

I was pleasantly surprised by Demystifying Dissertation Writing. Prior to reading it and after hearing briefly about interactive reading and note-taking, I was admittedly intimidated. After spending countless years in school including four years of undergrad and almost three post-grad, I was also wary of adopting a new study/homework technique. Nevertheless, I attempted to approach the interactive reading and note-taking method with an open-mind and give it my best shot.

I chose to re-read an article I was introduced to last semester by my advisor and then professor, Dr. Nelson. The article is entitled “Dogs, History, and Agency” and it will ultimately serve as one of the cornerstones of my research paper (presumably). Indeed, I will be taking Chris Pearson’s argument a step further and I hope to expand on the work he has already put forth. Thus, I felt this would be a good starting place for my interactive note taking and citeable notes endeavor.

It is worth mentioning: as I already had an advisor prior to the start of this class, it was not necessary for me to request a faculty member to supervise my research project at this time. I did, however, meet with Dr. Nelson to discuss my progress and the next steps I should take in my research. We met this past Wednesday for the first time in this spring semester. She steered me in a new direction, a bit away from agency. I am interested to see if agency will still be a large part of my research project or if it will only serve as one of its many pieces.

At first, I felt that I was reading an article just as I always do: I underlined various quotes and ideas as I made my way through it. I also jotted in notes in the margins and placed question marks where I had questions or was unsure of what Pearson meant. Ultimately, what struck me as most different from my normal reading was the much more careful attention to detail. After being in school for most of my life, I am used to zooming through nearly all of my readings. Interactive note-taking required me to slow down and fully engage with the reading and attempt to have a conversation with Pearson as if he was sitting right next to me as I read it. Furthermore, I also found it difficult at first to not take notes until the end. I have always been a multi-tasker and one of my favorite things to do while reading is to take notes. With interactive reading and note-taking, you are asked to get a feel for the work as a whole before taking notes. Nevertheless, once I gave the challenge a shot, I found that I learned a great deal more from Pearson’s article than from the first time I encountered it last semester.

A “citeable note” worth mentioning from Pearson’s work:

Pearson (2013): focuses on questions of agency concerning World War I dogs; one of the only works currently published that intersects the study of agency and that of militarized dogs 

As I now go forth with my research (and a lot of research will be had this semester), I feel that interactive note-taking and citeable sources will be two tools that I use to make the most of my time and to make myself a much more productive and efficient researcher.